Artist talk: Tina Farifteh about Killer Skies

Never look at the sky without fear; this is reality for people in war zones such as Afghanistan or Somalia. Warfare with remote controlled drones have made beautiful cloudy skies into killer skies. The drones come out of the blue for the citizen. For the drone pilot in a bunker in the Nevada desert, it is a targeted attack.

A system ‘bigger than us’

It is a system ‘bigger than us’ that needs to be brought to light, according to Farifteh. “After the ‘dirty wars’ with visible battles on the spot and excesses such as Guantanamo Bay, the United States has perfected the drone warfare to polish their image. Governments themselves remain out of the picture and soldiers do not die. The ordinary citizen does not notice, let alone that he or she will protest.”

Looking for dates

Farifteh went looking for data. “The very fact that these are hardly to be found proves that politicians prefer to keep this warfare quiet.” In the end, she found information showing that every four days in Afghanistan a drone attack is carried out. A country that has been at war for seventeen years. During her research she photographed the sky above her own head every day. The exposition shows the aerial photographs of the days when other countries had to endure a drone attack. Farifteh’s pictures state where that is and how many people died.

Killer skies

The often light blue, innocent skies appear to be ‘killer skies’ in other places. The contrast cannot be bigger. Farifteh consciously chose this approach. By not zooming in on horrible images, more people will be inclined to view her photos and her meaning will end up with more people. “This way of warfare must become transparent, a citizen must know what his or her government is doing. The idea that soldiers – drone pilots are not vulnerable should also be adjusted.”

Keep the hands clean

“He or she will not be physically injured, but psychically it will be different. Staring at the images on the screen, seeing horrible situations, choosing to shoot at a target that hopefully is an enemy and not an innocent citizen causing a lot of stress, even PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome). All the more reason to bring the drone attacks to light. The only ones who do benefit from this non-transparent warfare are the governments. An easy way to keep your hands clean to the outside world. ”

Report and photo credits: Carla van Gaalen